Four suspects have been remanded in custody till November 17 for allegedly running an illegal unregistered medical center and defrauding millions of rupees from people claiming that they could ensure pregnancy for women seeking to have children.
Those remanded were a woman calling herself a "Meniyo," her husband and two of their employees at the so-called medical center.
They were taken into custody by the Women and Children's Bureau of the Matara Division, who used a decoy to catch the suspects based on a complaint.
Police said the medical center had been operated for the past two and a half years from a building adjoining a luxury house built by the main suspect.
Police informed court that the woman had been claiming that she could ensure pregnancy through "universal forces" that were under her control.
Police have seized registration records detailing information on 816 women who had been "treated" by the Meniyo at her medical center.
The breakthrough for police had come after a couple who had been obtaining treatment from the medical center for two years had undergone a scan at a hospital after becoming suspicious. Once the scan confirmed that there was no pregnancy, they had gone to the police.
Police complaints have been filed by some 20 women claiming they had been receiving treatment from the center for months but have not gotten pregnant.
Police further informed court that the medical center had a strict policy whereby the women had to provide urine samples for tests only at the center, and some had been given results sheets after six to seven months claiming they were pregnant.
Those at the center had allegedly told the women not to obtainin treatment or scans from anywhere else, claiming their fetuses could be destroyed if they did so.
The women had been told to attend clinics at the medical center at least twice a month and were charged Rs. 1000 for each visit.
Meanwhile, three women who are residents of Walgama, Weligama and Akuressa have been admitted to the Matara Hospital for medical tests. Police said the women had been consuming "medicines" that had been prescribed to them at the medical center. This had caused their bellies to protrude as in pregnancy, but they had not given birth even after two years.
A spokesman for the hospital stated tests would be conducted to ascertain if the women's internal organs had sustained damage after taking as yet unidentified substances without medical knowledge or supervision.
Police have also seized a stock of unidentified medicines from the medical center that was run by the suspects.
The main suspect had arrived at Nadugala in Matara after earlier living at addresses in Kalutara, Nugegoda, Eheliyagoda and Hatton. Police say they are yet to trace her permanent address.
More complaints against the suspects were coming in, police also informed court.
Further investigations are ongoing.
Text and Pix by Krishan Jewaka Jayaruk
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